Message at the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), 8 July 2022, Cotabato, Philippines

Statement | Cotabato, Philippines | 08 July 2022
  • Minister Muslimin Sema and MOLE officials;
  • Bangsamoro Youth Commission Chairperson Marjanie Macasalong and officials
  • Members of the Project Advisory and Review Committee (PARC)
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

Today is a significant day, especially for our children in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as the region celebrates the World Day Against Child Labour.

The 2020 Global Estimates on Child Labour released by ILO and UNICEF showed that the number of children engaged in child labour has increased globally -160 million girls and boys remain in child labour, half of them in hazardous work, 112 million in agriculture. It was also observed that an increase of 8.9 million are among children aged 5-11.

Those are the global figures. Here in our Asia-Pacific Region, continued progress has been observed in reducing child labour, including in the Philippines.

The universal ratification of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 199 (No. 182) by all ILO member States keeps us hopeful and committed. This affirms the resolve of governments, workers, and employers’ organizations all over the world to eliminate child labour. We are now joined by other United Nations Agencies (UNICEF and FAO in particular), international and civil society organizations, and many others.

But the emergence of crises such COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and disasters in the recent years pushed families deeper into poverty and increased the risk of child labour among children, especially the vulnerable ones. It is during these times when social protection becomes increasingly important.

The ILO and UNICEF report on “The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour”, which informed the Durban Conference, highlights the importance of social protection in minimizing family vulnerability and poverty, thereby reducing the key drivers of child labour. Families who are provided with social protection have better chances of recovery thus lessening the risk of their children being engaged in child labour.

In the Durban Call to Action, among the areas which participants committed to scale up action is universal access to social protection.

Nationally, the ILO has been supporting the government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on the establishment of a social protection floor for the Philippines. We hope that these initiatives would provide guarantees for basic income security for children, person in active age, older persons, and access to essential health care.

The BARMM is also an important area for the ILO. The region ranks third with the highest percentage of children engaged in child labour according to the recent PSA Labour Force Survey. ILO hopes to help address this situation.

In partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Employment and other relevant ministries and offices in BARMM, the ILO is implementing the Achieving Reduction of Child Labour in Support of Education Project (ARISE). With funding support from the Government of Japan, the project aims to help reduce the worst forms of child labour in the agricultural and rural communities in BARMM through:
  • improvements in education services and opportunities;
  • economic empowerment and social mobilization of farming communities; and
  • improvement of regulatory framework and institutional development of the elimination of child labour.
The child labour situation in BARMM is not ideal but it also presents a lot of opportunities for a transitioning government to work on. It is important that children are always considered at the core of the peace and development priorities of BARMM. The children, after all, are the future of this region.

The issue of child labour is a complex issue. While it is the government’s fundamental duty to protect its constituents, especially children, multi-stakeholder efforts are required to prevent and eliminate child labour. The ILO remains steadfast in supporting efforts to eliminate child labour. Indeed, we are all in this together. We share your aspiration for a world in which there is no longer child labour. A child labour-free Bangsamoro para sa Batang Malaya!

Sukran! Wassalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

May peace be upon us all!